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Ilfracombe and Lee Bay

Date & start time: Wednesday 29th September 2010.

Location of Start : The Blue Ball Inn, Countisbury, North Devon, Uk ( Map Ref: SS 747 496 )

Places visited : Combe Martin, Ilfracombe, Woolacombe, Lee Bay and back.

Highest point : The lunchtime soup at Mortehoe certainly wasn't !

Walked with : Ann and the dogs, Harry and Bethan.

Weather : Overcast but improving through the day.

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Ilfracombe and Lee Bay at EveryTrail




When I lived in Swansea in the 1970's I sailed across to Ilfracombe several time on Mumbles Yacht Club weekends

and once on a summer sailing holiday with my brother and friends.

After we married, Ann and I brought our younger children here to North Devon in the 1980's . . . so today we are revisiting old haunts.

This is Combe Martin village with its ancient Church . . . we stopped by to have a look around.

- - - o o o o - - -

A slate memorial stone on the church wall is

dedicated to Johan Ash and is dated Sept 1668.

" Loe here I slepe in dust till christ my deare

and sweet Redemer in the cloud appeare"

A later inscription mentions another family death in 1681

- - - o o o - - -

The sign said that the Church was closed due to repairs to the heating system.

Never a great one for political correctness, I poked my head (and my camera) through the door . . .

They were certainly repairing the heating but in addition there were also some fine art restorers working on the Rood Screen

and its artwork towards the front of the Nave. An interesting sight that I would have otherwise missed.

A pink house near the church.

Combe Martin also has the reputation of having the longest main street of any English village (3 miles).

The overhead electric wires which are draped all across the streets hark back to an earlier era of electrical technology.

Combe Martin sea front . . . just about holding onto its sand.

The inlet faces the Bristol Channel and was at one time a major local seaport

like many places here on the north Devon coast.

Around the corner and down the coast a short way . . . Ilfracombe.

Its pier serves as a busy car park and the Church on the headland, a landmark for incoming sailors.

There are a large number of pleasure craft safely moored in the inner harbour today.

We drive down into town and enjoy a walk around, starting with a short climb up to Capstone Head.

The white buildings that look a little like cooling towers are in fact a relatively new (1980's) arts centre and theatre complex.

A "Blue Plaque" House in the back streets.
On the top of the headland a statue in memory of "Kate".

There was also an unusual looking granite trig point.

The gentleman was wondering what it was so I helped him out with an explanation.

Down at the harbour . . . The Smugglers Tearooms . . . not that smugglers used tearooms that often I would think !

Midday and low tide again at the inner harbour.

The ramp on the right is the launch point for the Ilfracombe Lifeboat . . . but sorry no pictures today.

Looks almost like a matching set of sailing cruisers.
There are also several commercial day boats for visitors.

That's better . . . the sun is really shining now.

The inner harbour dries at low tide, so every time I visited the port in my old skipper's single keeled sailing boat we moored out here where there is permanent deep water.

The Jetty is also used for Bristol Channel cruise boats like the old Cambell Steamers and the new Swansea Ilfracombe ferry which I hear is hoping to start a new passenger service in time for Easter 2011.

Continuing our drive we head west to Woolacombe Bay.

The main sands in the distance were favoured by the Victorian tourists out to take the airs and sunshine.

Modern day visitors are more likely to be surfers taking advantage of the big Atlantic waves as a result of the west facing aspect of the beach.

Lee Bay and a delightful thatched property known locally as " Old Maid's Cottage "

If you were thinking of buying and then renovating it . . . I'm afraid someone has beaten you to it.


Update October 2012 . . . wow . . . the power of the 'net . . .

The owners of the cottage have seen our site and written to inform us the renovations are now complete.

The cottage is available to let if you want hire a lovely cottage in the Lee Bay area for a classic West Country holiday.

Contact them @



We parked in the village car park next to the small Church.
Inside the walls had unusually modern stencil decorations.

It seems that we are visiting many of the churches of the area but with such a long history, this region has many attractive buildings like this to see.

Down on the seafront . . . the Mill House and it's annex.

This holiday accommodation was advertised as capable of sleeping ten. (phone 01271-813777 if you fancy a stay).

Down on the beach, our supposedly invalid dog, looking full of beans !

The two of then cooling off in style, though Bethan seems to have lost control of her tongue !

Lee Bay has a concrete path across the beach which appeared to lead to the pointed rocks on the left.

Looking through the gap . . . the path continued . . .
. . . rising up steps cut out of the rock.

Beyond was a delightful if rather stoney second beach . . . a real smuggler's haunt.

On the way back I spotted this really interesting rock pool photo opportunity

but then I realised the image was purely one of me looking in . . . but I took it anyway !

The old hotel at Lee Bay was all boarded up and empty. With that and the lack of sand the whole area looked a little run down.

Still there's hope in the air for the "Old Maids Cottage" and for the hotel here as there is an application for planning permission

to turn it into holiday apartments, a restaurant and Bistro. There's life in the old bay yet.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon 75 or my Canon G10 digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . .sunshine and a walk on the beach.

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Previous walk - 28th September Heddon & Watersmeet

A previous time here - It's been a while since we were last in this area so no photos on-line.

Next walk - 30th September 2010 Dunkery Beacon and Porlock